A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 70

she was comfortable, and so I
glanced into her chariot and rearranged her silks and furs. In doing
so I noted with horror that she was heavily chained by one ankle to the
side of the vehicle.

"What does this mean?" I cried, turning to Sola.

"Sarkoja thought it best," she answered, her face betokening her
disapproval of the procedure.

Examining the manacles I saw that they fastened with a massive spring
lock.

"Where is the key, Sola? Let me have it."

"Sarkoja wears it, John Carter," she answered.

I turned without further word and sought out Tars Tarkas, to whom I
vehemently objected to the unnecessary humiliations and cruelties, as
they seemed to my lover's eyes, that were being heaped upon Dejah
Thoris.

"John Carter," he answered, "if ever you and Dejah Thoris escape the
Tharks it will be upon this journey. We know that you will not go
without her. You have shown yourself a mighty fighter, and we do not
wish to manacle you, so we hold you both in the easiest way that will
yet ensure security. I have spoken."

I saw the strength of his reasoning at a flash, and knew that it was
futile to appeal from his decision, but I asked that the key be taken
from Sarkoja and that she be directed to leave the prisoner alone in
future.

"This much, Tars Tarkas, you may do for me in return for the friendship
that, I must confess, I feel for you."

"Friendship?" he replied. "There is no such thing, John Carter; but
have your will. I shall direct that Sarkoja cease to annoy the girl,
and I myself will take the custody of the key."

"Unless you wish me to assume the responsibility," I said, smiling.

He looked at me long and earnestly before he spoke.

"Were you to give me your word that neither you nor Dejah Thoris would
attempt to escape until after we have safely reached the court of Tal
Hajus you might have the key and throw the chains into the river Iss."

"It was better that you held the key, Tars Tarkas," I replied

He smiled, and said no more, but that night as we were making camp I
saw him unfasten Dejah Thoris' fetters himself.

With all his cruel ferocity and coldness there was an undercurrent of
something in Tars Tarkas which he seemed ever battling to subdue.
Could it be a vestige of some human instinct come back from an ancient
forbear to haunt him with the horror of his people's ways!

As I was approaching Dejah Thoris' chariot

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